Luke Isbel

Dr Luke Isbel

Group Leader Molecular Epigenetics Laboratory

South Australian Immunogenomics Cancer Institute

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Dr Luke Isbel competed his PhD in 2016 at La Trobe University, under the supervision of Professor Emma Whitelaw. Throughout his PhD studies, Luke worked primarily with mouse models of genes involved in epigenetic regulation, keenly interested in concepts like ‘gene regulation’ and ‘phenotypic buffering’. Following completion of his PhD Luke relocated to Basel, Switzerland where he held a postdoctoral position in the lab of Professor Dirk Schübeler at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. During his postdoctoral years Luke undertook an intense research program delving deeper into these same epigenetic processes in stem cells, specializing in functional genomics and bioinformatics techniques to study molecular mechanisms at fundamental levels.

Luke will relocate to Adelaide in 2023 to set up his own lab at the South Australian immunoGENomics Cancer Institute (SAiGENCI). Luke’s vision for his research group is to bridge the fundamental and translational aspects of epigenetics using a cross-disciplinary, ‘systems’ approach. He will tackle critical gaps in our understanding of molecular events by integrating a variety of models and tools to shed light on the biology of transcription factors, cofactors and chromatin.

Luke studies epigenetics and chromatin biology, specializing in cutting-edge functional genomics and bioinformatics techniques in tissue culture and animal models. His work to-date has yielded significant insights, publishing in journals such as Science, Nature and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Luke’s future research aims to demonstrate that we can systematically target transcription factor proteins that read the genome in a manner that synergizes with also targeting the underlying chromatin. Long term, understanding the interplay between transcription factors, cofactors and chromatin will open new facets of TF-based therapeutics to treat diseases such as cancer.

  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2012 - 2015 La Trobe University Australia PhD in Molecular Genetics
    2011 Griffith University Australia Honours, Biomedical Science
    2008 - 2010 James Cook University Australia Bachelor of Biomedical Science
  • Research Interests

  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2023 Yelagandula, R., Stecher, K., Novatchkova, M., Michetti, L., Michlits, G., Wang, J., . . . Bell, O. (2023). ZFP462 safeguards neural lineage specification by targeting G9A/GLP-mediated heterochromatin to silence enhancers. Nature Cell Biology, 25(1), 42-55.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS1 Europe PMC1
    2023 Isbel, L., Iskar, M., Durdu, S., Weiss, J., Grand, R. S., Hietter-Pfeiffer, E., . . . Schübeler, D. (2023). Readout of histone methylation by Trim24 locally restricts chromatin opening by p53.. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 30(7), 948-957.
    2023 Michael, A. K., Stoos, L., Crosby, P., Eggers, N., Nie, X. Y., Makasheva, K., . . . Thomä, N. H. (2023). Cooperation between bHLH transcription factors and histones for DNA access. Nature, 619(7969), 385-393.
    DOI Scopus1 Europe PMC2
    2022 Isbel, L., Grand, R. S., & Schübeler, D. (2022). Generating specificity in genome regulation through transcription factor sensitivity to chromatin. Nature Reviews Genetics, 23(12), 728-740.
    DOI Scopus19 WoS15 Europe PMC11
    2021 Grand, R. S., Burger, L., Gräwe, C., Michael, A. K., Isbel, L., Hess, D., . . . Schübeler, D. (2021). BANP opens chromatin and activates CpG-island-regulated genes. Nature, 596(7870), 133-137.
    DOI Scopus33 WoS30 Europe PMC24
    2020 Michael, A. K., Grand, R. S., Isbel, L., Cavadini, S., Kozicka, Z., Kempf, G., . . . Thomä, N. H. (2020). Mechanisms of OCT4-SOX2 motif readout on nucleosomes. Science, 368(6498), 1460-1465.
    DOI Scopus93 Europe PMC66
    2019 Hartl, D., Krebs, A. R., Grand, R. S., Baubec, T., Isbel, L., Wirbelauer, C., . . . Schübeler, D. (2019). CG dinucleotides enhance promoter activity independent of DNA methylation. Genome Research, 29(4), 554-563.
    DOI Scopus35 Europe PMC25
    2019 Russo, A. M., Lawther, A. J., Prior, B. M., Isbel, L., Somers, W. G., Lesku, J. A., . . . Hale, M. W. (2019). Social approach, anxiety, and altered tryptophan hydroxylase 2 activity in juvenile BALB/c and C57BL/6J mice. Behavioural Brain Research, 359, 918-926.
    DOI Scopus11 Europe PMC5
    2018 Isbel, L., & Schübeler, D. (2018). Non-mendelian Inheritance in Mammals Is Highly Constrained. Cell, 175(5), 1179-1181.
    DOI Scopus2 Europe PMC1
    2016 Isbel, L., Prokopuk, L., Wu, H., Daxinger, L., Oey, H., Spurling, A., . . . Whitelaw, E. (2016). Wiz binds active promoters and CTCF-binding sites and is required for normal behaviour in the mouse. eLife, 5(JULY), e15082.
    DOI Scopus15 Europe PMC12
    2016 Daxinger, L., Oey, H., Isbel, L., Whitelaw, N. C., Youngson, N. A., Spurling, A., . . . Whitelaw, E. (2016). Hypomethylation of ERVs in the sperm of mice haploinsufficient for the histone methyltransferase Setdb1 correlates with a paternal effect on phenotype. Scientific Reports, 6(1), 25004.
    DOI Scopus22 Europe PMC13
    2015 Isbel, L., Srivastava, R., Oey, H., Spurling, A., Daxinger, L., Puthalakath, H., & Whitelaw, E. (2015). Trim33 Binds and Silences a Class of Young Endogenous Retroviruses in the Mouse Testis; a Novel Component of the Arms Race between Retrotransposons and the Host Genome. PLoS Genetics, 11(12), e1005693.
    DOI Scopus21 Europe PMC20
    2015 Oey, H., Isbel, L., Hickey, P., Ebaid, B., & Whitelaw, E. (2015). Genetic and epigenetic variation among inbred mouse littermates: Identification of inter-individual differentially methylated regions. Epigenetics and Chromatin, 8(1).
    DOI Scopus45
    2015 Isbel, L., & Whitelaw, E. (2015). Commentary: Far-reaching hypothesis or a step too far: The inheritance of acquired characteristics. International Journal of Epidemiology, 44(4), 1109-1112.
    DOI Scopus6 Europe PMC2
    2015 Harten, S. K., Oey, H., Bourke, L. M., Bharti, V., Isbel, L., Daxinger, L., . . . Whitelaw, E. (2015). The recently identified modifier of murine metastable epialleles, Rearranged L-Myc Fusion, is involved in maintaining epigenetic marks at CpG island shores and enhancers. BMC Biology, 13(1), 21.
    DOI Scopus14 Europe PMC11
    2013 Daxinger, L., Harten, S. K., Oey, H., Epp, T., Isbel, L., Huang, E., . . . Whitelaw, E. (2013). An ENU mutagenesis screen identifies novel and known genes involved in epigenetic processes in the mouse. Genome Biology, 14(9), R96.
    DOI Scopus58 Europe PMC49
    2012 Isbel, L., & Whitelaw, E. (2012). Endogenous retroviruses in mammals: An emerging picture of how ervs modify expression of adjacent genes. BioEssays, 34(9), 734-738.
    DOI Scopus23 Europe PMC21
  • Position: Group Leader Molecular Epigenetics Laboratory
  • Phone: 83133301
  • Email:
  • Campus: West End Health Precinct
  • Building: AHMS - Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences, floor Ninth Floor
  • Room: 9064
  • Org Unit: South Australian Immunogenomics Cancer Institute

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